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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776
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Netanyahu Will Not Meet Pope during Rome Visit

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not meet with Pope Francis during a visit to Rome, as the Israeli leader’s office had announced.

The Vatican reportedly never was asked to schedule a meeting for this week, and due to complex and conservative Vatican protocol cannot schedule a visit with one week’s notice, which would be insulting.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement last week saying that Netanyahu would meet with the pope at the Vatican on Wednesday and during the same trip meet with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome to discuss the peace talks with the Palestinians, as well as Iran, Syria and other issues of mutual concern.

On Sunday, the Vatican officially informed the Israeli ambassador to the Vatican, Zion Evrony, that a meeting of Netanyahu and Francis could not be scheduled this week.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with the pope earlier this month in Rome.

The pope has expressed an interest in visiting Israel, though no date has been set.

JTA

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